Seafloor characterisation is a fundamental first step to inform resource management, marine spatial planning, conservation, fisheries, industry and research. Ireland's national seabed mapping programme - INFOMAR (Integrated Mapping for the Sustainable Development of Ireland's Marine Resource) delivers freely available, high-resolution seabed imagery derived from multibeam echosounder data for the Irish Exclusive Economic Zone. The European Union established European Marine Observation and Data Network Geology (EMODnet) data portal provides harmonised broad-scale seabed substrate information for all European Seas and confidence assessments identifying the information that underpins the geological interpretations. A multi-scale product has been produced with INFOMAR's high-resolution seabed substrate information included at the 1:50 000 scale. As part of the “Supporting Implementation of Maritime Spatial Planning in the Celtic Seas” project the EMODnet Geology seabed substrate data assisted in addressing the challenges associated with implementation of the Marine Spatial Planning Directive. Additionally, seabed substrate data in the EMODnet Geology data portal was identified as a valuable tool for guiding the site selection, and subsequent characterisation of offshore wind farms in the Irish Sea. The paper outlines the approach to delivering a multi-scale seabed substrate dataset for the Irish offshore and its applicability to marine spatial planning and offshore energy development.

Thematic collection: This article is part of the Mapping the Geology and Topography of the European Seas (EMODnet) collection available at: https://www.lyellcollection.org/cc/EMODnet

Scientific editing by Cherith Moses; Ascanio Rosi

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)